let me sit here in this
       big maroon overstuffed mohair
for a long time, at least centuries

       sit here and stare at the
               magnificent mantel
watch loved ones grow old
                 turn to dust

could i do that?
could i just sit and observe
        the essence of love?
                       not want to possess it
                       not want to control it
                       not want to understand it
                           watch magnificent fires in the

just sit here with
              walls evaporating
                  streets dissolving
neighborhoods wiped away
                 entire cities sinking into oblivion 
                                     my eyes still open
come to the redwoods
         return to the redwoods
relentless roars from northern california
          listen          to ruby colored voices
                                                 murmuring whispers
                                  in the background of our ears
                                               an insistent humming
                                                    strophic songs
                                               circling our brains
                                                    melting heart edges

come to the redwoods
                      return to the redwoods
                                            remember the redwoods
we can't resist the call
                        when we arrive
                                  we wonder why we left
                                  we are dressed in silence
we are enveloped by ancient arms
                        remembering back through ice ages
knowing we are part of the universe
               we are             the universe
               we        have                         always been here
                 each           and all of us
moving       around    the circumference   of      endless
such a joyful
       to  be awakened
                     by thin, radiant
                         sun       strips
as they illuminate       
                the still, silent water of
                                          Tomales Bay.
                                          to watch the light                   
                                                       widen and
                                                       creep slowly
                                                  upon the dry November grass
follow the first morning fawn
                          as it cavorts upon the hardening ground
                                           with   a sense of security
                                      not yet threatened by the day's dangers
the same fawn stands absolutely still
                           a tiny  tail
                                       as a companion comes from a far field
                                            to sit together
                                            doing nothing that is something
all this from the cottage window
                          where we give thanks
                                        for being alive 
                                                  for being with deer
                                                         for being hidden in
I am utterly terrified that something happened and we were born into life
     soft summer breezes alarm me; they are the embryo of the North wind
i am terrified because silence is disappearing
     the fact that civilization is only pomp is horrific
all the poems which have never been written terrify me
     i haven't the courage to be swallowed by ocean waves

i cannot understand the beauty of flowers 
i am terrified by the depth of love 
i am distressed by my will to live
everything is contained in music including terror

it is shocking to think that hell might be worse than the New York subway
joy is the breath of life;pain hides at its center
i am perplexed by Man's invention of God
                           i am terrified by breath continuity 
                      i am disturbed  by libraries    
                  we may be browsing in nonsense

i am terrified by the love which surrounds us
i am anguished because my father died without words
cities are terrifying when they exclude nature

my mother sucked senility before she slipped into death
       everything can be translated into music
        birdsong beauty is more natural than our voices

i am terrified because words don't mean anything and words are useless
i am disturbed by all the poems which  have been written
                     none of us and none of this matters 
i am worried that the beauty of children will die
i am terrified because people believe beauty 
an enormous scream is hidden deeply within ourselves 
i am terrified by God's invention of Man
it is distressing to feel the cosmos outside oneself
it is terrifying to live the universe inside oneself
that death may be a beginning is utterly intimidating
that death may be the end is utterly terrifying
Dorothy Death sent me
              a lovely note yesterday,
"I'm going to visit with you
                          on Halloween evening at 11:15 PM.
I will bring a charming trio (accordion, guitar and bass)
                                so that we can tango.
Don't tell me that you can't tango;
                              anyone can if they concentrate.
If you can tango longer than I can
   you'll buy some more living;
if not-------------------------"

Dorothy's cursive writing is quite singular;
it has some fancy curls and twists.
she must have been tutored by some nasty nuns
                      or some Jesus lovin' Jesuits.
i replied (in neat printing)
"Dear Dorothy,
     how nice of you to think of me
         no accordions please
i thought you knew me better
the definition of a gentleman is
someone who can play the accordion but doesn't
          i suggest violin, guitar and bass
DON'T forget the vodka
             the last time we danced
we downed a shot before stepping into each new number
wear those shiny, red shoes;they keep me awake
anyone interested in watching
                can come to the center of Holly Park
at the appointed hour.
                      Dorothy is quite stunning
i'm running inner tango tapes through my head constantly
rewinding and replaying the video of our magic dance
the end is purposely blurred
              to obscure the identity of the winner

 at twilight
magic    is  deepening
     travel  along the energy road
  which is neither day nor night
  which     exists         in
one can slip    through
tiptoe upon winding violet floors
            watch your shadows lengthen
                    until they are treetall
                      then   you       can  step
                          from treetop to    treetop
jump from shadow to shadow
      roll and tumble along purpling branches  

      words have dripped down the tree trunks
                         into the roots
language is darkening silence
                             at twilight
                            magic   is   deepening

illness lies next to isolation
                      special needs are attended
caregivers smile paraphrase presumptions
                   return to computers
  return to chattering patient stories
                  return to their private thoughts

flanks of nurses arrive and leave
clicking, hooting, whistling machines
                        lost in daytime roars
become night's musical sounds
          hissing beyond wheezing
          stroking past painscreams

          returning home you become
            the center of activity
           everything is dropped
                to attend howls
sleeping pills replace dreams and sex
pain killers are mistaken for love
 away from you is where everyone goes to be normal
       you are aware of all that is done for you
there is a hidden, secret circle where you don't exist
where you are seldom mentioned except in sadness

              surrounded by people
                             you are solitary
              you float within voices
              hoping for self sanctuary
where you can bathe alone
      where you can dress alone
            where you can cook alone
                       as you once were
                 lying alone on a cliff
                  within ocean sounds
                  where only your soul knows you
                       absence dissolves pity
                  where only you know your soul

when you choose to seek it
everything disappears and then
             that almost gone,
unbelievable sunset, proving death
             over the pacific ocean,
was exactly the same
when it sunk over
a civil war battlefield

                  when you look deeply
                  into your loved one's 
                  eyes and see many
               magic moments which filter
               through centuries, you know
                   that both of you
                are more than one

if you allow yourself to dissolve into mist
                      to pulverize into dust
you will feel the essence of countless civilizations
you will feel the power of wind
                          which never stops blowing

how could any of us allow our existence
             to span less than a century?
             this would be a supreme energy waste
             all of our thought patterns would sink
      into the drain before eternal orchids bloomed

if you want to heal
 from   inside
                   open an ironing board
                            run your hands
along the edges
as if this is
                your inner self

                when the light comes on
                you will hear a gurgle
                              a hiss

what shall you iron?          a simple linen dish towel
               is a good start
               as you hold the iron
               wait for the sputter to stop
there will be an even whoosh
like the mystery in Debussy
                       this is the signal to iron
                       the edges of the towel
open the weave             allow it to feel its borders
     this is like stroking the inside of your stomach
             like feeling your leg muscles relax and flex

when the rhythm of the simple linens
                            enters your core
                                   you are ready to understand
        and the beautiful imperfection of crocheting
as you move the iron along the filigree
                      your eyes know that
                                     the ornamentation
is different and similar
                         left side
                        right side
  people driving on the other side
                    the ironing board
                    the  magic   carpet
                                 caressing inner streams
Richard Clair wafted away 
              wafted away       from his body
he's a good friend
     a very good friend
how can you say that? 
you              barely know him
    that's true
            but it isn't true
            he would sit for hours
                               using nowords
a wide uplifted smile on his face
then someone would say 'cycling'
     his frame lit up like
$20,000 touring bikes
                  he spouted streams of words
                             collages of brand names
                                         pastiches of famous bikers
after a jazz concert
                he expected long, stretching silence
                     pockets of pure reverence
if you spoke he startled as though
   you were interrupting replays of long, rhapsodic saxophone solos
walking away was a postlude;              part of the entire episode
                            many times i stood next to him
                            after pouring the wine
                                          no sounds---we were smelling
                                          no touching--we were tasting
                  it was about the wine, we were present and unpresent

and then, political discussions when he would lie limp like a soft snake
waiting for a pause
skillfully he would slide in and never let go of his liberal rope
until you agreed                           or made everyone laugh

he hugged me so many times without the slightest hint of a touch
it was a long universal squeeze 
as he tripled in size, enveloped me 'til i broke away to breathe

when he wafted away  there were ringlets of floating lavender
Chet could be heard in the far off clouds
                                  everyone waved and moved toward silence


every time we say hello we hold each other tighter
      every time we say hello our eyes are so much brighter
            all the gods above us must be in the know
                they think so little of us, we don't want to go
when you're near there's such an air of spring around us
     we can hear a lark somewhere begin to sing about us
        there's no love song finer, don't modulate into a minor
                every time we say hello
"i know those words but they're changed
 oh my god! Ella will be furious."
                         "they've been changed a hundred times
                          she doesn't mind, she's a real lark."
"this is weird, i'm talking to a piece of cloud
 a filmy strip of silver and yet i know i'm talking to Chet Baker."
                          "you are babe. you've listened to me so often
                           and you know how to listen.
                           you close your eyes. you sink into melody
                           you go where it goes, you know what it knows.
                           you know how many times you wanted to scat
                           scat with me now
                           Dick does Chet, Chet does Dick"
"but i can't scat, i don't know step one "
                           "you know all the steps
                            follow that long smooth road of my trumpet
                            keep the melody tucked into your soul
                            let it dance or skip wherever it wishes
                 Chet and Dick do every time, all the time,anytime---"

to the center of the universe
   when you wake, you reach for your ax
        your ax is your instrument
             your ladder to your soul
                  you may need some liquor
                      you may need some dope
                          you may smoke some weird things
                              as you climb the rope
                              we are all in deep meditation
                              Miles with his arrogant tone
                              Louis with his bursts of laughter
                              Ella with her silk and gold
                              it all sounds so easy
                              only if you're always there
                              Stephane has never stopped bowing
                              Morello mumbles to his drums
                              day and night, night and day
                                                 they are our ministers
and we often ignore them                         they are our lawmakers
                              they follow the sound of beauty
                              in their glow is the word
                                               the movement
                              the vision     if we can touch it
                                                   and hold  it
                                                   and feel  it
                               we can wrap ourselves in it
                               and only say hello
                                            never goodbye
only hello                                                  never goodbye 

              only hello     only hello     only hello